Politicians make a beeline for UIA Friendship Fair

Sunshine and smiles were the order of the day during the recently held UIA Friendship Fair. The annual India Australia Friendship Fair at Sydney Olympic Park, celebrating the 66th Indian Independence Day on August 19, was a memorable day in the Park with the presence of Australia’s top politicians from both sides of government.

Organised by United Indian Associations, the Fair took over the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre with celebrations of cultures, heritage, food, music and dance. A great example of community participation, this event allowed the Indian community to strengthen bonds and integrate into the Australian landscape.

 Joining in the multicultural spirit was Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, NSW Minister for Multicultural Affairs Victor Dominello and over 30 members of Parliament at both State and Federal level. Their presence at the event evidenced the importance of unity in Australia’s diverse landscape.
 Also present were High Commissioner for India Biren Nanda and Arun Kumar Goel, Indian Consul General in Sydney.

The Prime Minister of Australia earlier was received by the UIA President Mr Amarinder Bajwa and UIA executive team. People thronged to get a photo opportunity with the PM when she arrived at the venue. The PM loved meeting people and getting henna tattoo on her hand.

A ‘Citizenship Ceremony’ was held for the first time at the venue and was hosted by federal Minister Hon Michelle Rowland representing the Minister for Immigration Hon Chris Bowen and attended by Hon Victor Dominello State Minister for Communities and Citizenship. 10 people of Indian origin were conferred upon the citizenship of Australia.

Pandit Anindayi Banjeeri performed after the ceremony enthralling the audience with the classical Indian music.

In his address to the gathering Amarinder Bajwa President United Indian Associations Inc, welcomed the guests and the communities. He highlighted various activities executed by UIA in the past. He also made an appeal to the visiting politicians to support the community organisations that are working hard to look after the communities and support them with grants and funds.

The announcement by both the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O’ Farrell that they are planning to visit India before the end of the year to promote trade and relations was warmly applauded by the huge crowds at the event.

Speaking at the India Australia Friendship Fair in Sydney, PM Julia Gillard said her government was forging closer ties with India.  “I am particularly proud to be the First Prime Minister to ever attend this event. It is a great joy for me. One of the great delights of being the Prime Minister is seeing closer our strength of multiculturalism and the contribution you make to build our great nation.”

She added, “We are building stronger ties with India for a better future. I want to make a difference to strength this relationship and that is why I was so determined to remove any embargo to selling Uranium to India and I believe this has made a difference to the ties between us. I will make a personal difference to these ties by visiting India before the year is out. I will tell the Indian Prime Minister how much I feel at home in India because of the time and opportunity I had to spend time with you.”

Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott said, “It is marvelous to be here just a few days after August the 15th, the anniversary of Indian independence. Like the Prime Minister, I have come with some of my federal parliamentary Liberal colleagues. It’s good that we have Labor members of parliament here. It’s terrific that we have Liberal members of parliament here: Philip Ruddock, a great friend of India; Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, a great friend of India; John Alexander, a terrific friend of India.”

He added, “I have been fascinated with India ever since as a 23 year old I spent three months travelling around the sub-continent – Mumbai, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kashmir and Bihar where I spent some six weeks with the Australian Jesuit mission. India is a great country and Indian-born people are great citizens of Australia. No community better exemplifies Bob Menzies’ great phrase, “lifters, not leaners”. The Indians are lifting Australia to the heights we all want to achieve.”

Like last year, this time too, UIA did not get any major government grant or funding announcement, which UIA members were hoping to get. In 2010 and 2009 the then Government gave a grant of 50,000 dollars to UIA, which was announced during the Fair.

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